Repair process begins for MU Libraries' moldy books

Thursday, May 8, 2014 | 5:22 p.m. CDT; updated 2:43 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

*This story has been updated to include the length of the initial lease of a facility being used to store the books.

COLUMBIA — MU Libraries has started shipping half of the 600,000 books affected by mold last fall to be repaired in Texas by the restoration company Belfor.

MU Libraries' lease on the underground Subtera cavern, where mold was initially discovered, ends June 1.

MU will ship as many books as possible to Belfor's Texas site to be repaired before the Subtera lease ends, said classical studies professor Dan Hooley, who heads the Faculty Council committee working with MU Libraries.

The remainder will be moved to a 26,100-square-foot storage facility at 6215 Cunningham Drive near Exit 121 on Interstate 70.

The clean books will be shipped back to this facility and stored separately from the moldy books. Once all of the books are cleaned, the storage area for the previously moldy books will be fumigated so it can be used for future storage, Hooley said.

The most recent estimate of books to be saved is 400,000, according to the MU Libraries website. The rest will be destroyed, but online copies will be available.

The facility is being leased to MU by D&D Investments at $16,965 per month, compared to $12,016 per month at Subtera, said MU Libraries communications officer Shannon Cary. The lease started May 1 and is ongoing, she said.

*On Friday, Ann Riley, associate director of access, collections and technical services for MU Libraries, said the lease is for one year and renewable annually for five years unless another agreement is made before that. It is not being treated as a permanent facility, she said.

Various MU departments have written to University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, requesting that funding be made available for a permanent and satisfactory facility, Hooley said.

In an April 28 letter to David Read, chairman of the Department of English, Wolfe said MU Libraries will submit plans to the UM System Board of Curators for an addition to the UM Library Depository, the primary storage facility for MU books since 1997.

Wolfe said they will submit plans for the curators' consideration as a "priority capital project."

In 2006, a request was made to the UM academic officers to consider funding an addition to the UM Library Depository, which holds about 1.2 million books, according to the MU Libraries website.

The request was deemed cost-prohibitive, and the current system of leased storage space was chosen instead, according to the website.

Hooley said Wolfe's letter is a "hopeful sign" that MU faculty's wishes will be fulfilled.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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